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Cape Cod is known for many things: breathtaking beaches, quaint little towns and great seafood, to name just a few.
But there’s another beauty on Cape Cod that can go overlooked. Or, more accurately, there’s another beauty above Cape Cod that can go overlooked: the starry night sky.
Located roughly 60 miles from the bright city lights of Boston and Providence, the Cape still enjoys some of the darkest night skies on the eastern seaboard.
And that makes for some amazing stargazing.
Quite a night at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater by Chris Cook Photography
For amateur stargazers, some of the best spots to view the stars and summer Milky Way are found along the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Located on the Outer Cape, this is the darkest region in the area. The beaches of Truro and Wellfleet are among the best, especially Newcomb Hollow Beach and Marconi Beach.
Wood End Lighthouse in Provincetown is another good one. Photo by Chris Cook Photography
Moving south towards the “elbow” of the Cape, you’ll enter the town of Chatham. The view from here is very dark, as you look out over Nantucket Sound.
Hardings Beach, often packed with summer beachgoers during the day, empties out in the evening hours, leaving only the tranquil scenery of a star-filled sky accompanied by the sound of the surf. From here, the star clouds of Sagittarius and Scorpius glow in all their glory.
Starry Cove off Chatham, MA by Chris Cook Photography
If you find yourself visiting the Upper Cape, check out the beaches near Nobska Lighthouse and Wood Hole.
While not quite as dark as the Outer Cape, the view south over Vineyard Sound is still impressive. From here, you can stargaze while watching the ferries and boats traveling back and forth to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Nobska Lighthouse at its brilliant best by Chris Cook Photography
The north side beaches are another treasure. Offering breathtaking summer sunsets and calm, shallow waters for swimming, these sandy strips can also serve as prime location to see the aurora borealis.
Witnessing the northern lights is a rare treat, to be sure, but the lights can and do make an appearance once in a while. If you’re lucky enough, you might just get a glimpse of one of nature’s most amazing sights.
Before stargazing, make sure it’s a clear, moonless night at whichever location you choose to visit, as moonlight is quite bright and will wash out parts of the fainter Milky Way and stars.
Milky Way over Highland Lighthouse in North Truro, MA
If you’re a shutterbug, capturing the stars and Milky Way has never been easier. Plus, taking home your own original photos of the star-filled Cape Cod sky is a great vacation memento.
I happen to be offering one-night workshops to teach fellow photographers the basics of landscape astrophotography, and you can learn more about that here, if you’re so inclined.
Based on Cape Cod, Chris Cook is a professional photographer who enjoys capturing the beauty of the night sky. His work can be found on his website www.cookphoto.com. He will also be displaying his work at the Art Shanties located on the historic Hyannis waterfront from July 20-26, 2015. More information can be found at http://hyartsdistrict.com/visual-arts/art-shanties